This article deals with the influence of D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance in film history. First, the text addresses the extent in which his mythical figure appears in traditional film historiography, contrasting the usual view of Griffith as a «genius» and film language «pioneer»,with his aptitudes for self-promotion. Second, the paper analyzes the movie’s production conditions and its reception problems. Third, the influence of Griffith’s films and more especially of Intolerance will be examined through two cinematographic models: «entertainment» and « melodrama» that influenced dozens of American and Soviet filmmakers. Then, focusing on Intolerance, the internal tension between the show and the narrative will be examined. It has never been fully resolved in the work of Griffith, but remains asserting itself in the ambivalence, as can also be seen in much contemporary mainstream cinema.
David W. Griffith, melodrama, show, classic cinema, mainstream cinema, institutional mode of representation